Portable digital devices, such as media players, mobile phones and PDAs are now more popular than ever and computer users often want to transfermusic and video files to and from these devices and their PCs.Whilemanymedia players are supplied with software which makes it easy to copy files on and off the device, it can be difficult and time-consuming to ensure all of your music has been copied across — particularly if you have more than one portable player at home. By using Vista’s Sync Center,Windows Media Player can automatically synchronise the contents of your media player with the content of the Media Player library. In some versions of Vista, such as Vista Ultimate, the Sync Center can also be used to synchronise files between network locations, but for this workshop we will focus on media synchronisation.
The Sync Center can be accessed in a few ways. The first option is to click the Start button and type ‘sync’. After a pause, Sync Center will be listed in the Programs section and can be launch by clicking its shortcut. Alternatively, the tool can be accessed through the Control Panel. Click the Start button and select Control Panel. Then click the Classic View link and double-click the Sync Center icon. To allow for easier access in the future, the shortcut from the Start menu can be dragged and dropped to the desktop or the Quick Launch bar. With Sync Center open, attach the portable device you want to sync, either by plugging the USB cable into your PC or by enabling a wireless connection.
In the Tasks pane to the left of the window, click the link ‘Set up new sync partnerships’. A list of compatible devices will be displayed. If the device you want to work with it not listed, quit Sync Center, ensure the device is connected to the computer and relaunch the program. If it still doesn’t appear, check the manufacturer’s website to see whether the device is compatible with Vista and/or Sync Center. If the device is now visible in the Sync Center window, select it by single-clicking it and a button labelled ‘Set up’ will appear at the top of the list. Click this button and Windows Media Player will launch. Depending on the capacity of the device, a message about not meeting the recommended minimum size may be displayed — just click Yes to continue.
To allow Windows to remain in control of the synchronisation process, ensure the box labelled ‘Sync this device automatically’ is ticked at the top of the Device Setup dialogue box. Any playlists which have been configured in Windows Media Player will be added to the list of file to synchronise and displayed in the list to the right. If there are any playlists which you would prefer not to synchronise, simply select it from the list and click the Remove button. The order of playlists can be adjusted by making a selection from the list and clicking the up and down arrows next to the Priority label in the lower right-hand corner.
Additional playlists for synchronisation can be selected by clicking the ‘Available playlists’ menu and selecting Sync Playlists. Select any playlists and click the Add button. A random selection of files can be synchronised by ticking the box labelled ‘Shuffle what syncs’. Use the New Auto Playlist button to create new playlist based on your required criteria and add them to the synchronisation list in the same way. Once all of the settings have been configured, click the Finish button. There will be a pause and Media Player will disappear while the initial sync takes place.
Launch Windows Media Player manually and the progress of synchronisation will be displayed in the bottom of the screen. Once the process is complete, a message will be displayed to that effect and you will be told that the device can be disconnected. If the device is plugged in whilst Windows Media Player is running in future, synchronisation will automatically take place. It is also possible to manually start synchronisation by clicking the Start Sync button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. The icon in the upper right of the screen indicates how much storage space is remaining.
Whenever the Sync Center is launched, the device that has just been configured can be seen in the ‘View sync partnerships’ section. Synchronisation can also be achieved from here without the need to launch Windows Media Player; click the Sync All button, or select the device from the list and click Sync. Any problems during synchronisation are listed in the ‘View sync conflicts’ section, while clicking the ‘View sync results’ link will display information about the most recent synchronisation. If the partnership between the Sync Center and a particular device is no longer required, rightclick the icon representing the device and select Delete.